Finding Resources in Local Parks

One of our family’s all-time favorite resources is our local Cleveland Metroparks.    The Metroparks are also affectionately called the Emerald Necklace as there are parks that were wisely donated and preserved  that are like a ring of interconnected parkways and trails that run through the surrounding Cleveland area.

They also have a publication, aptly named  Emerald Necklace and my issue just arrived yesterday.  If you are in the area, you can explore it online and see all the wonderful opportunities coming up.  If you are not in the area, there are still some great resources to be found.  For example, scroll to page 4 and read  The Greatest Show on Earth by Robert D. Hinkle, PhD. Not only is it a great description of the solar cycle, there is also a useful link to the www.spaceweather.com to see when you might see a great show as well.

Salamander Crossing

I was checking my feed reader this a.m. and came upon a great post by Jim McCormac, The run of the salamanders.  For salamanders, homeschool science those who don’t live near a creek, or who might not be that familiar with the salamander, stop by and read about his mid March spring adventure.

His post reminded me of the many salamanders the neighborhood kids and I observed along the banks of Plum Creek.   This got me to wondering what type of other salamander resources I might find.

Here are just a few:

The Ohio Salamander Web – Home of the Ohio Salamander Monitoring Program

Enchanted Learning has a printout on the life-cycle of the salamander

Cleveland Metropark  Search-able Animal Database

Salamander Photos

If you want to witness the run of the salamanders yourself and you are in or near Brecksville, Ohio, you can witness them crossing the road in the Cleveland Metro Parkway, Brecksville Reservation  from March through early April, if the weather is warm and rainy.  They close the parkway from 4 pm to 9 am and there will be a park representative on hand to answer questions.

From 4 p.m. to 9 a.m. during warm and rainy weather, the parkway will be closed to traffic. A park representative will be available at the closure site to answer questions.

If you aren’t in Ohio, then see if your own local park might not do something similar!

Best Homeschool Resources

The best homeschool resources I have found can’t be purchased, but are knowing your rights and the responsibilities foundation, best homeschool resources, rights and responsibilitiesthat accompany them. This way, you are fully aware of what options you can choose and if someone asks you to do more or less than that option,  you are fully informed and can protect your choice.

This has come to mind today as I watched a report that Susan Ryan shared at her Corn and Oil blog from Fox News about Virtual Schooling. The show started with the reporters stating how homeschooling is growing like wildfire as an intro to an interview with  Elizabeth Kanna, author of Virtual Schooling, A Guide to Optimizing Your Child’s Education.

Kudos  to miss Ms. Kanna for getting it right when she explained that the virtual schools she writes about are actually public virtual schools and that they are not the same as homeschooling.    Certainly there are many similarities, but it is important to remember when exploring various education  options that we  must investigate each choice and look at the fine print attached to determine the best option for our family.    That is why I’m in favor of rights and responsibilities being the foundation and key to finding the best homeschool resources available.   As we investigate any choice or opportunity, it is our responsibility to ask the hard questions and to learn all we can before choosing.  Clarity of language similar to Ms. Kanna’s helps to find  the rights to this option all the easier.

Each state is different, but I’m familiar with the laws in my state concerning home education. In Ohio- home education laws and rules can be found within a few short chapters of the  Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 3301-34 Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education.   Virtual Public School Laws can be found in the Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3314 and include  many more laws since they are public schools.

Knowing the rights and responsibilities  involved with each choice, whether  they are labeled public virtual school, public brick and mortar school, private school or home education,  provides an excellent foundation for parents to be able to  find the best resources for their child(ren).

Ohio S.B.E’s Review of Home Education Rules Complete

The Ohio State Board of Education’s recent review of the Ohio Administrative Code 3301:34-01-08, Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education is now complete.  I wrote  OH State Board of Education to discuss homeschool rules in September and before that I explained that an Ohio Department of Education spokesperson stated that despite the warnings by some groups, there were no specific plans to change our laws in this Ohio Homeschool Regulation Review.

There were minor changes made to our  code that  reflect updates within other areas of Ohio law concerning teachers and an outdated reference to testing, but there were no other changes made.

On January 13, 2009, The Ohio Register of Ohio posted their No-Change Filings that included part of Ohio Administrative Code, Chapter 3301-34, Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education. These were:

no-change

The two other sections not included above, 3301:34-01 and 3301:34:04 have been brought up to date to comply with other areas of the code.   These were filed  under Recently Adopted Rules With an Action Filed on 01/13/2009 and were shown at the Ohio Register as well:

amended

I will be updating these specific changes  within the  Ohio Administrative Code, Chapter 3301-34, Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education,  The Written Narrative Assessment Form and The Achievement Testing Form at  Ohio Home Educators’ Network (OHEN)  shortly.

For those who are interested, the old code along with the minor  changes are listed below and are illustrated via strikethrough or an underline:

3301-34-01 Definitions.

The following terms are defined as they are used in this chapter.

(A) “Licensed or certified Certified teacher” means a person who holds a valid Ohio teaching license or certificate, excluding the certificate issued under section 3301.071 of the Revised Code.

(B) “Home education” means education primarily directed and provided by the parent or guardian of a child under division (A)(2) of section 3321.04 of the Revised Code which child is of compulsory school age and is not enrolled in a nonpublic school.

(C) “Parent” means a parent, guardian or other person having charge or care of a child as defined by section 3321.01 of the Revised Code.

(D) “School district of residence” means the public school district within which the parent resides.

(E) “Superintendent” means the superintendent of schools of the city, county, or exempted village school district in which the parent resides.

and

3301-34-04 Academic assessment.

(A) The parent(s) shall send to the superintendent an academic assessment report of the child for the previous school year at the time of supplying subsequent notification.

(B) The academic assessment report shall include one of the following:

(1) Results of a nationally normed, standardized achievement test which meets the requirements set forth in rule 3301-12-02 of the Administrative Code.

(a)   Such test shall be administered by:

(i) A licensed or certified teacher; or

(ii) Another person mutually agreed upon by the parent(s) and the superintendent; or

(iii) A person duly authorized by the publisher of the test.

(b) Results should demonstrate reasonable proficiency as compared to other children in the district at the same grade level. Any child that has a composite score at or above the twenty-fifth percentile shall be deemed to be performing at a level of reasonable proficiency.

(2) A written narrative indicating that a portfolio of samples of the child’s work has been reviewed and that the child’s academic progress for the year is in accordance with the child’s abilities.

(a) The written narrative shall be prepared by:

(i) A licensed or certified teacher; or

(ii) Other person mutually agreed upon by the parent(s) and the superintendent.

(b) The parent(s) shall be responsible for the payment of fees charged for preparation of the narrative.

(3) An alternative academic assessment of the child’s proficiency mutually agreed upon by the parent and the superintendent.

Now that this review is complete, Ohio home educators  may want to  consider following education and other issues relevant to homeschooling to maintain and protect our freedoms.


New Illinois and Ohio Groups

Two new groups were announced this week.  One came from Susan Ryan at Corn and Oil and the other from Amy Cortez who is the creator of Bright Kids at Home.

OH State Board of Education to discuss homeschool rules…

The Ohio State Board of Education has their agenda listed at the OSBE website and it states that they will be discussing Rules 3301-34-01 and -04.  It has been explained that they are looking to address  two particular sections because there are citations within those that are outdated that need updating.

These would be:

From section  3301-34-01:

(A) “Certified teacher” means a person who holds a valid Ohio teaching certificate, excluding the certificate issued under section 3301.071 of the Revised Code.

As I understand it, the law regarding certified teachers has been changed, so they must update this to match the change.

From section 3301-34-04

(1) Results of a nationally normed, standardized achievement test which meets the requirements set forth in rule 3301-12-02 of the Administrative Code.

3301-12-02 of the O.A.C. was eliminated when public school testing rules changed.  If  you visit the O.A.C and read the present section  3301-12-02 of the O.A.C., you will see that it refers to superintendent issues and no longer has anything to do with testing.

If you click on this link, you will be taken to the Ohio SBE website. Once you are there, you can find the agenda within their Sept. 8th date, by clicking on Time  Schedule.  This will open up as a PDF.  If you don’t have the free Adobe Software to open PDFs, you can download the free Adobe Reader here.

Here is the section of the meeting  that pertains to us:

2:45 p.m.

75 minutes

Achievement Committee Meeting – Delaware Room

Outcomes:

• To discuss Rules 3301-34-01 and -04, Home Education Rules

• To hear an update from the International Education Advisory Committee

Co-chairs:
Mike Cochran and Ann Womer Benjamin

Committee Members:
Virgil Brown, Jr., Colleen Grady, Heather Heslop Licata, Eric Okerson, Steve Millett and Emerson Ross

Lead Staff:

Curriculum and Assessment
Stan Heffner, Associate Superintendent, Center for Curriculum and Assessment

Staff:
Diana Branham, Kim Murnieks and Donna Nesbitt

I also learned that my public records request is on its way.  There were 8,000+ comments, some of them from homeschoolers and some from districts.

I will offer a report here after I receive my public records request and after attending the meeting.

Ohio Homeschool Regulation Review

This month, the Ohio Department of Education has started the process of preparing to review our regulations. Part of that preparation includes the department accepting comments from stakeholders at their site concerning Ohio Administrative Code, Chapter 3301-34 Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education. These rules have served my family and many others well since 1989. This is the first time since the rules and regulations were enacted that the Ohio Department of Education has facilitated this type of formal review. This code was written in 1989 and it amplifies the law that governs Ohio homeschooling, Ohio Revised Code 3321.04. The code clearly states Its purpose:

The purpose of the rules in this chapter is to prescribe conditions governing the issuance of excuses from school attendance under section 3321.04 of the Revised Code, to provide for the consistent application thereof throughout the state by superintendents, and to safeguard the primary right of parents to provide the education for their child(ren). Home education must be in accordance with law.

I am encouraged by the fact that many individual homeschoolers and local homeschool groups in Ohio are united in recommending that the Ohio Department of Education keep our regulations as they are. After the Ohio Department of Education collects the stakeholder comments, they will gather and pass them along to the Ohio State Board of Education Capacity Committee for review. The committee will then make recommendations to the State School Board as to make changes or not.

Since first hearing of the review, I have said that I am hoping for the best, but I’ll be prepared for the worst. Some in our community feel that the ODE will be suggesting changes. It isn’t that I don’t believe this, I just can’t document that they are intending to do so. In fact, in this Columbus Dispatch blog post, Jennifer Smith Richards writes that over 1200 responses had come in by July 19th and that an Ohio Department of Education spokesperson stated that despite the warnings by some groups, there are no specific plans to change our laws.

Those who know me well understand that when it comes to research, I prefer to document the information I’m studying, especially when it might affect my rights or those of others. Before children, I was a Biblical research student and I learned the importance of finding a chapter and verse, understanding where it originated, the context it was used and who it was written to, for myself instead of relying on someone else’s interpretation. Over the years, I’ve applied this same method of investigation to other areas of my life.

As a homeschooler, I’ve learned the importance of knowing my rights and responsibilities as well as, if not better than others so that if someone subtly tries to change a right, I will be able to recognize the change. I certainly look to experts when I need them, but when I hear speculation that might affect me, I want to know where it originated and if I need to simply watch it or begin taking action. If it can’t be documented, I will still keep watching, but I don’t move until I’m sure.

These days most of us are familiar with weather terminology, especially here in Oho where we face the occasional tornado. I would compare our situation as being under a State School Board review watch. We should be prepared as conditions are favorable and could result in a request for changes, but no documented changes have been shared by the many SBE watchers. If we move to a documented warning, I am sure that we will be prepared, remain calm and be able to stand together to protect our freedoms with other individuals around our state.

Funding losses are not Ohio homeschooler’s fault…..

Valerie Bonham Moon recently wrote a post, Public school administrator wants newspaper exposé of homeschooling in response to an Ohio newspaper article, In defense of home schooling.

It was reported locally that the administrator’s comments followed a remark about the loss of funding to private schools and home educators. Perhaps the local public school administrator is confusing those enrolled in a public virtual school with home educators? He or she wouldn’t be the first. Except for tax dollars paid by the parents of home educated children, Ohio home educators do not bring money into a district, nor do they take money away from it. They simply happen to live in the district. However, public e-schoolers who live in the district and are enrolled in a statewide e-school that originates somewhere else in the state or country do require local funds to leave a district.

I visited the Ohio Department of Education’s website to document the amount of money the Hillsboro district did pay out to statewide e-schools. The latest payment listed is for July 2008. Here is how it breaks down:

Alternative Education Academy (OHDELA) – $39,400.53

Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) – $152,337.16

Ohio Connections Academy (OCA) – $20,409.42

Ohio Virtual Academy – $83,023.17

Virtual Community School of Ohio (VCS) – $54,115.30

This is a total of $349,285.58 that is paid to the e-schools from Hillsboro School’s local funding. It really does make me wonder if the public administrator is not erroneously confusing homeschoolers, those following the Ohio Administrative Code- Chapter 3301-34 Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education and take NO state or local funding with those who are enrolled in public e-schools and comply with the ORC Chapter 3314:Community Schools and do use government funding.

If I were living in the Hillsboro district, I think I would attend the next school board meeting and ask the administrator in question if he understands the seven different school options in our state and bring a list of the citations for each.

There is a big difference between homeschooling, private schools and public e-schools. Homeschoolers do NOT take money away from districts. I do not object to options that do, they are simply caught in the Ohio unconstitutional school funding dilemma, but I think it is a mistake for districts to accuse homeschoolers of causing them to lose money when indeed they do not.

Ohio Home Educators Network

Ohio Home Educators Network (OHEN) is a regional network of homeschooling families. We are an inclusive group supporting families of all religious beliefs.

Although OHEN supports a student-led, interest-centered approach, we welcome all homeschooling families regardless of educational philosophy or teaching style.

OHEN’s purpose is to provide interested parents with accurate information about home education in Ohio.

We hold informational meetings and offer a discussion group for families to share resources and discuss homeschool issues.

OHEN is a network of homeschooling families in the Northeast Ohio area. The network, started in 1991, is run completely by volunteers. O-HEN does not sell or distribute any curriculum, textbooks or teaching supplies.

OHEN

Ohio home education notification process

I am not an expert, nor a lawyer, but I do understand the importance of knowing our rights and responsibilities. In my opinion, the right to home educate a child is a fundamental right (natural or God-given). Still, we need to know what the laws say about home education in our state so that we can make informed choices. In my opinion, this is a good place to start out when you are just beginning to homeschool. Why?

With that disclaimer on the importance of knowing the law, I’d like to share this brief podcast with you on the home education notification process in Ohio.

[display_podcast]

Thanks for listening.

You can read a copy of our code at the Ohio Home Educationa Network site.

3301-34 Department of Education
Ohio Administrative Code, Chapter 3301-34
Excuses from Compulsory Attendance for Home Education
Promulgated pursuant to Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 119
her
e.

You can find some of the forms you might want to use there as well:

Thank you for stopping by! I hope you will join me next time! I believe that comments are accessible, but if you have any trouble with them, please contact me here. ~ Mary Nix

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